Touré Folkes

Executive Director

Touré is a dynamic leader whose journey from New York City to New Orleans has been marked by a commitment to community, education, and social impact. Born and raised in New York City, Touré's upbringing was a blend of diverse cultures and experiences that laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

Inspired by his experiences, Touré embarked on a bartending career in New York, where he not only perfected his craft but also continued his dedication to community service by volunteering with local nonprofit organizations. However, it was in the vibrant city of New Orleans that Touré truly found his calling. Immersing himself in the city's rich bar culture, he became an integral part of the local hospitality scene while championing causes close to his heart.

Drawing from the wisdom instilled by mentors and elders throughout his life, Touré emphasizes the importance of community support and collaboration. This ethos is evident in his work at Turning Tables, where he plays a pivotal role in building community, developing programs and curriculum that empower individuals within the spirits and hospitality industry.

In recognition of his contributions, Touré was honored as a 'Person To Watch' in the 2022 Imbibe 75 list, as a testament to his dedication to shaping the drinks world and driving positive change. With his unwavering passion and commitment to making a difference, Touré continues to inspire and uplift those around him, leaving a lasting impact on both local communities and the broader industry landscape.

Ariel Neal

Program Manager

Ariel E. Neal is leading bar industry in to better days. She has positioned herself to reimagine how society perceives hospitality. “If you can take better care of yourself you can do that with in your community.” As the 2024 President of Chicago USBG, founder of Leira Knows Cocktails, Events & Production LLC, Co Creator of Good Vibes Healing Haven, Sponsor Chair for Sip of Paradise, Ariel believes Hospitality Shapes Society.

She is passionate about providing the Bar Industry with sustainable resources that allow growth and development as hospitality professionals.

In response to the challenges she and other hospitality professionals of color experienced, Neal was the Orginal Co Founder of the Non profit Causing A Stir. Fueling her passion for change in the industry she Co created Good Vibes Healing Haven, a Retreat consulting agency that creates educational workshops and hospitality driven experiences to deliver professional development with a holistic approach.

Through education, mentoring, leadership training and immersive travel programs, Neal is transforming bartenders into hospitality professionals with skill sets that allow them to indeed, exceed the bar. Neal’s motto: “Connecting people through cocktails,” stems from her mission to make wine, spirits and cocktail education accessible and approachable. To get Neal talking for hours, just ask her about her two passions — the hospitality industry and educational travel. You can find her ‘nerding’ out with other hospitality professionals in various events nationwide. Neal has been featured in Ebony Magazine, Food and Wine, Tales of the Cocktail seminars and panels, CHILLED 100, Elevate, Portland Cocktail week, Spirit Forward, Letters to a Young and Bartender Cocktail Swagger.

Sam Kiley

Programs Coordinator

Sam Kiley is a drink maker and educator based in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Coming into the beverage industry from the not-for-profit world, Sam has found purpose as the Programs Coordinator of Turning Tables Nola.

Sam has managed an array of not-for-profit and beverage programs from the South East down to the Gulf Coast and is currently co-director at Dovetail. A local’s spot on the edge of the French Quarter. Dovetail was recognized as one of the top ten new bars by Tales of the Cocktails and top five Craft Cocktail bars from in 2023. 

Sam is community centered, terrible at instagram, and loves to be outside any chance she can get. And is most lucky to have the kindest and most inspirational two younger brothers and supportive biological and industry families.

Geoffrey Wilson

Assistant Programs Coordinator

Geoffrey has spent more than a decade working at some of the best bars across the country, such as Ocotillo in Phoenix, and Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland. He earned the title of Best Bartender in Chicago, IL in 2008 as well as Best Bartender in Phoenix, AZ in 2014.

“I’ve been in and out of this business for 30 years and for the 1st time, There are people that look like me that I can pass things that i know onto a new generation.”

“Turning Tables not only teaches basic knowledge, it passing on a sense of self worth in an industry that doesn’t recognise the self worth of marginalized cultures. My goal is to have these students leave this program and know their own self worth and because of that, This sets their own path to be successful. Especially in an industry that needs a fundamental change.”


Roxy Eve Narvaez

Wine Education

Roxy is a hospitality professional based in New Orleans with over a decade’s worth of experience. Roxy Eve originates from Puerto Rico. Her formative years were spent in NYC, curating her hospitality strengths for establishments in all styles of service, from fast-casual to fine dining. She gravitated toward the wine world as the focus of her career because, as imparted to her by her mentor, she believes that wine is a passport that transcends spaces and identities. Roxy Eve operates with a vision to make wine education accessible to communities of color regardless of socioeconomic status while pushing the wine industry to be fun and inclusive. She is the co-founder of the Juneteenth Saber Celebration and the wine educator/mentor for Turning Tables NOLA. Roxy’s passion expands beyond wine into the realm of immigration advocacy in the city of New Orleans. In her downtime, she loves to share feminist memes with her friends and listen to Bad Bunny on her porch, preferably with a bottle of bubbly.

Marissa Douglas


Marissa Douglas is a fund development consultant and grant writer who serves organizations pursuing racial equity and systems change. Following several years as a middle school teacher in Philadelphia, Marissa served as a Sr. Consultant at Acceleraise, supporting 30+ organizations focused on education, workforce development, public policy, and other issues. With a track record of winning 6- and 7-figure grants for early stage nonprofits, Marissa is driven by a passion for equity and developing nonprofit leaders' ability to create change. Marissa holds a Bachelor's in English from Tulane University and a Master's in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ari Ballard

Events Coordinator

Born and raised in New Orleans, until Hurricane Katrina displaced her in 2005 in Prairieville, LA. Ari went on to LSU to triple major in sociology, history, and psychology. Upon leaving LSU, she started her cocktail journey at Chilis, eventually leaving during COVID to focus on bar experience at New Orleans Original Daiquiris in Gonzales, LA.

Realizing that she wanted to do more behind the bar, she followed her friend Kendrick Allen (Turning Tables Cohort 3 graduate) to Oxbow Rum in Baton Rouge, LA to start her craft experience as a Tasting Room Associate. Within a couple of months, she was promoted to Tasting Room Manager. Upon meeting Toure Folkes and learning about the opportunities of Turning Tables, she took a leap of faith and applied.

Once accepted into the program, she moved back home to New Orleans to focus on expanding her career. During her time in the program she realized spirits production and event management was her calling. Under the supervision of Jason Zeno at Porchjam Distillation, she worked to craft a Rhum Apertif as her final project to become a distiller. While pursing her externship with Porchjam, she also took on events leadership with Preservation Hall as a bar liaison.

Since completing Turning Tables, Ari has been hired as a Private Events Assistant Manager at Preservation Hall, assisted with events leadership within Turning Tables, completed her WSET Level 2 Certification with Merit, and offers education in Rum distillation. Thanks to Turning Tables, she has returned home with her partner Josh and daughter Amari.

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